Bookstagram: Instagram for the book community
When I was initially setting up this blog and establishing its social media presence, I had to decide which social media sites I wanted to have for the blog. The main options that I considered were Facebook, Twitter, Bloglovin’, and Instagram. Out of those choices, I chose to instantly create a Twitter since it was the most straightforward – I’m capable of typing out words and being concise (when needed), so Twitter was a default. I set up a Facebook page in order to ensure that I had ownership of the Facebook url with my blog name, but I’m not currently active on the page (Edit: This post motivated me to formally set up and become more active on my Facebook page). I tried out Bloglovin’ briefly, but it seemed like such a hassle that I had to confirm my blog through a complicated (as in, more than a one-button click) process, and my blog pictures weren’t formatting well on there, so I’m not very active on that yet either.
I considered using Instagram, but I chose to not create one since (1) I didn’t even have a personal Instagram, (2) I didn’t know how to use it as a social media site, and (3) I wasn’t very sure what photos I’d post since I’m not very artsy at all. Therefore, having an Instagram for this blog wasn’t a serious thought in my mind until I did more research and learned the way that other readers and book bloggers were active on it.
I spent a couple of days lurking and checking out the photos that other book enthusiasts posted. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Bookstagram was an actual community in which people would share pictures of the books they hauled, currently reading books, books that they recommended, etc. Sure, there were also pictures that were simply taken for aesthetically pleasing purposes, but those looked nice on my feed and I didn’t really mind at all.
Once I felt more comfortable with how to use Bookstagram, I began to play around with my books and took my own pictures. Soon enough, I got into a routine of taking a series of a dozen pictures, choosing the best one based on the angle that was just right, editing the crap out of it, adding appropriate hashtags, posting it, then waiting to see what people would think of it. Every single picture “like” gave me a mini adrenaline rush, and each additional follower would make me feel more accomplished and made me want to brainstorm more ideas for photos…. Bookstagram was such a new experience, but it was pretty easy to get a hang of. I would say I’m fairly addicted to it now.
I’m currently almost two weeks into posting daily Bookstagram photos, and I love it. As of now, I have 13 photos posted, 158 followers, and I’m following 368 book-related accounts. I’m still relatively new to Bookstagram, but here are eight trends and aspects of the Bookstagram community that I’ve noticed in my two weeks:
1. That Effort Though…
There’s a ton of effort put into a lot of Bookstagram photos. Some people go all out with decorations, having them match perfectly to the color and style of book covers. The pictures are so well done, that I could see a lot them being legitimate advertising material for those books. How do people coincidentally have so many decorations (e.g. candles, nail polish, mugs, purses, etc.) that match their different books? I tried adding decorations near my books in a couple of my pictures, but I found myself very limited with what I could use as decorations, as you can see in this picture…
Other people have a fresh cup of coffee or tea next to their book every single day. That has to add up to be really expensive, but props to the people who are daily coffee drinkers anyway, and happen to have a new book to take a picture of! I wish I had the time to go to a café and just read more often – maybe once I graduate college in a few months.
Another trend that I’ve seen, which seems to take a lot of effort, is legs in Bookstagram photos. These pictures of legs (and a book) usually include knee/thigh high leggings or fluffy socks. These pictures are usually very well done, and I always wonder what angle they must’ve been in to take the picture with their hands. I feel like this one is the most effort because you’d have to ensure that your legs are positioned in the right way and tensed properly, and also that the book looks nice and any decorations near you (e.g. coffee, flowers) are in their proper places. It’s actually really impressive.
2. Books in Nature
I’ve noticed that taking pictures of books in nature is fairly common. It aims for the artistic look, where the book (usually hardcover) is in some snow, grass, trees, bed of flowers, or even dirt. These pictures are usually very beautiful and meaningful to that specific book, but I sometimes can’t help to think that this has to be bad for the book… Or maybe I’m overthinking it. Even so, I don’t think I’ll ever do this to my books because I’m a bit of a clean freak and I don’t want leftover dirt on my bookshelves after taking a couple of Bookstagram photos. Nonetheless, I do love these pictures because they can be so gorgeous.
3. Funko Vinyl Figures
I’m seeing these little action figures everywhere on Bookstagram! If you don’t know what they are, they’re basically little toys based off of pop culture characters, except with smushed, square heads. They’re actually a lot cuter than how I’m describing them… For instance, you can get a Harry Potter character, or even Katniss (The Girl On Fire), to put on your bookshelf.
Funko sells so many different figures popular in Disney, video games, and pop culture, and the Bookstagram community seems to be obsessed with collecting ones that are book-related (or even color-related to book covers) and placing them next to books on bookshelves. I don’t own any myself because they’re not very cheap and I’d rather buy more books with that money, but they really are adorable.
4. F4F and S4S?
I felt like I was back in 2008 Myspace when I first saw this. In Myspace, I remember that there were L4L and C4C, which stood for Like for Like and Comment for Comment respectively. They were when two people on Myspace had a mutual agreement (usually through a comment saying “l4l?” or “c4c?”) that if one of them liked/commented on a post, then the other person would like/comment on the other person’s post. It would basically generate an inflated “like” count and generic comments. So when I initially saw this on Bookstagram, I was surprised, and also confused because I wasn’t entirely sure what F4F and S4S meant.
So over time, I realized that F4F and S4S (or FfF and SFS) stood for Follow for Follow and Share for Share respectively. These are fairly common to see in Bookstagram, although I’ve heard that this is prevalent in Instagram as a whole. I personally think that F4F can be a bit too forced and not genuine – I follow people who follow me if I like their profile’s pictures anyways. Bookstagram has a fantastic community, and I believe that people should focus on building relationships and interacting with people of similar bookish interests, instead of simply trying to inflate their follower number. As for S4S, I find that seeing an S4S post/picture can be frustrating to see since it clogs up my feed, and some photos that I “like” aren’t the original photo, but a repost.
Under another circumstance, I saw a picture that was a collage of nine different photos from nine different Bookstagrammers, posted by a popular Bookstagram account. I actually really appreciated it because since I was new, I was able to discover other Bookstagrammers more easily. In this case, the Bookstagrammer wasn’t sharing these nine people to get their own account shared, but to introduce newer Bookstagrammers to the community. I thought that was a really great way to share other Bookstagrammers.
5. Theme | Divider | Pictures
I get that some people take their themes very seriously. A lot of the very popular Bookstagram accounts have rotating themes, and I really respect that because that’s a lot of effort. I had realized pretty early on that people had themes, but I hadn’t seen a theme divider until I was on Bookstagram for around a week.
If you don’t know what a theme divider is, it’s basically three blank, white pictures that someone puts on their Bookstagram so that people can differentiate between their new themes.
When I saw theme dividers for the first time, I was really confused because I thought my Instagram wasn’t fully loading. The first two photos on my feed had loaded fine, but the third picture that I saw on my feed was just white. I refreshed my feed three times before I scrolled past that one picture (thinking that it might of been just a slow-loading picture), and realized that there were two more white pictures after that by the same person. I then visited their profile and realized it was a theme divider.
In my opinion, I think that theme dividers are completely unnecessary and can easily be replaced with that person saying that they were starting a new theme in the caption.
6. White and Bright
Speaking of white photos, I’ve actually found that some of the most popular Bookstagrammers have profiles filled with white and bright (i.e. edited to have very high exposure) photos. My hypothesis for why these are so popular is that photos with white backgrounds or accents integrate well with the default Instagram background and are therefore more appealing. I’m not completely positive on this however, because I’m not sure if photos with black backgrounds would be most popular if the Instagram background were black. Other possible reasons why white-themed photos are more popular may just simply be because white seems happier or because it attracts the eye more. As an example for white and bright photos being popular, this photo generated a decent amount of likes at the time (I only had ~40 followers) even though it’s a book that barely anyone has read.
7. Monthly Subscription Boxes
Bookstagram was what made me aware of monthly bookish subscription boxes. I’ve heard of subscription boxes like LootCrate before, but I hadn’t heard about book subscription boxes in the past. When I saw people on Bookstagram posting their unboxing and revealing what they received in their subscription boxes, I got really excited and started to do my own research on the different types of book subscription boxes.
From my research, the subscription boxes that caught my eye were The Book Drop, Fantasy and Sci-fi Books, OwlCrate, ParnassusNext, and Uppercase. I debated between them, and ultimately chose to buy a 3-month subscription with ParnassusNext because they guaranteed a newly anticipated, hardcover young adult book that was signed by the author. My next choice would either be OwlCrate or Uppercase, which is probably going to be the subscription box that I purchase next.
(Note: None of this is sponsored in any way. I just wanted to share some subscription boxes that interested me and therefore might interest others, since I’m on the subject anyways.)
8. Extremely Supportive Community
Lastly and most importantly, I’ve noticed that the Bookstagram community is such a welcoming and friendly place, much like the book blogging community. I love interacting with other Bookstagrammers, such as asking about their thoughts on the books in the picture that they posted, asking for a follow-up review once they get through their currently reading book, and simply complimenting the effort and beauty of their photos!
I’ve not only discovered new books and made friends on Bookstagram, but I’ve also found other active book blogs. Bookstagram is a great resource for book bloggers because it connects people and is an effective platform to communicate with people with similar interests.
Those were eight things that I’ve noticed so far in my two weeks active on Bookstagram! I’m so, so glad that I created my Bookstagram account, and I’m looking forward to sticking to it for a while (although my daily postings may taper off because I can only have so many books).
Now it’s your turn! What do you think of Bookstagram?